The first question that came to mind when I read a disturbing study of Russian, Somali and Kurdish immigrants by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is why now? If the THL study is the first-ever of its kind in Finland about immigrants’ health and living conditions, why has it taken such a long time to materialize?
One of the biggest surprises of the study was the high amount of immigrants who suffered from mental-health problems, THL researcher, Seppo Kosinen, was quoted as saying on Helsingin Sanomat.
In the study, males were healthier than women.
Taking into account the high amount of mental health issues that the THL study reveals, probably the biggest surprise is how little the health authorities knew about the state of health of some immigrant groups in Finland.
Does one need to be an expert to grasp that unemployment, discrimination, social exclusion and poverty are some culprits behind the mental health problems of immigrants? Certainly there are other ones like traumas endured in their former war-ravaged home countries.
Another matter that bothered me about the study was its shortened name, Maamu, which sounds like mamu, the shortened form of the Finnish name for immigrant, or maahanmuuttaja.
While some immigrants don’t have a problem with this word, some do. If Finns call immigrants mamu is it then ok to refere to men or women as äijä (dude) or gimma (chick), respectively.
Migrant Tales welcomes the belated THL study since it shows that Finnish health authorities are starting to take a real interest in the well-being of immigrants in this country.